The CDC confirmed the first case of COVID 19 on January 21, 2020. By March 13, 2020 schools were shutting down, travel bans were being put into place and President Trump declared a national emergency on the United States.
No one expected their life to be transformed so quickly and many people expected the pandemic to be over by summertime and then Christmas. Yet here we are, one year later still in the middle of a pandemic.
By this point, you probably know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has had it yourself. 28.9 million Americans have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last twelve months but all Americans have been affected by the coronavirus in some way. High school seniors have lost prom and graduation. Hardworking people have lost their jobs and ability to gather in groups with their friends and family. Mount Union athletes have been stripped their entire season and student organizations have no choice but to meet virtually or with a hybrid model.
There has been a lot of change in the past twelve months and many people have lost things that may have taken for granted before. It is easy to look at the events and opportunities that have been missed due to COVID-19 but it is harder to acknowledge the mental toll the pandemic has had on individuals. Mental health is our social, psychological and emotional well-being. Isolation and the stress caused by the pandemic that led to an increase in mental health disorders according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on national and global health issues, studied the implications of mental health and substance abuse due to COVID-19. In January 2019 11% of adults reported symptoms of depression or anxiety disorder. In January 2021, 10 months since the start of the pandemic 41% of adults reported symptoms. Of this number, 56% are college-aged students. The amount of people who experience mental health symptoms since the start of the pandemic is increasing and will continue to increase and mental health should not be taken lightly.
Students at Mount Union can improve their mental health in numerous ways. Taking breaks, doing things you enjoy and fueling your body the right way are steps people can take to have better mental health. Talking about how you feel is another important aspect that is often overlooked. During the pandemic, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself and to talk with friends. Getting together in small groups, or a phone call to a friend can drastically change your mood and feed the need for socialization. Ultimately, all students at Mount Union have access to free counseling services.
One year of COVID does not have to mean one year of your life gone. We have all grown from this and are doing our best given the circumstances. Before you head out the door with your mask on or log in to a Zoom call today, find something about yourself, even something small you have done, to be proud of today.